A certain something

It has finally happened. RB has had her long-overdue first haircut to remove the hair-wings, and no longer resembles an Orthodox Jew. It was about time… they harboured far too much mealtime debris and residual vomit for Mummy’s liking, and were too tempting a source of entertainment for Daddy. Unfortunately, she also no longer resembles a girl… not that she especially did anyway, owing to Mummy buying mainly unisex clothes “just in case we have another one.” Mummy is thrifty like that.

Although she just about survived the haircut (despite persistent attempts to lick the scissors) and although the Lovely Neighbour did a marvellous job trimming things into a neat little pixie cut without accidentally stabbing The Baby or even nipping an ear – quite an impressive feat, considering the wriggliness of the subject – RB has lost something of herself. She is like Samson deprived of his strength, but instead of muscle has lost a certain je ne sais quoi. She went to bed stroking her ears as if searching for the lost hair-wings that she previously twiddled there. Is it possible, Mummy wonders, that her rebellious nature lived within the wings, and she will awake a calm and conformist text book baby? Tomorrow will tell…

So grown up!

Bags, boxes and heavy things

“Now that you have had a baby, it is time for me to pass on your baby things,” says Grandma. Grandma has a very large house from which she never throws anything away and, since The Baby came along, has been slowly revealing to Mummy just how much stuff she has hoarded from Mummy’s own childhood.

It started with Mummy’s first baby clothes. “Oh how lovely!” exclaimed Mummy, “What a lovely thing to keep, thank you!”

“Plenty more where those came from!” says Grandma, “I think I have kept all of your clothes up until about the age of eight! They will be lovely for The Baby!”

“Oh…. goody,” says Mummy, thinking what a lot of clothes this must be. Some of them are everso cute and Mummy likes seeing them, but some have gone a bit crispy with age. “I might not use all of them,” says Mummy tentatively, “though they are a lovely thing to have.”

Then came the exercise books.

“I have kept all of your exercise books from when you were at school!” declares Grandma, “And now you are a Mummy, it is time for you to have them all!”

All of them?” asks Mummy, a little taken aback.

“All of them!” says Grandma, heaving large crates out of the cupboards and depositing them at Mummy’s feet.

Mummy has a lovely time looking through her old books, but does wonder where on earth in her tiny house she can put them all. “Thank you so much,” says Mummy.

Next come the birthday cards.

“I have kept all of your birthday cards you ever received!” exclaims Grandma, dragging several heavy carrier bags across the floor and dumping them on Mummy’s lap. “It is time for you to have them all!”

“Every single one?!” asks Mummy.  There are SO many cards to look through.

“Hmmmm…” says Grandma. Even she can see this is a lot of cards. “Maybe I will have a look through them and only give you the very special ones. There are probably a lot in there you don’t want.”

“Oh, good idea,” says Mummy, “I will love to keep the very special ones.”

Grandma spends a week going through Mummy’s old birthday cards selecting only the very special ones for Mummy to keep. She presents Mummy with an only slightly smaller carrier bag for Mummy to take home.

“Have you been through them all?” asks Mummy.

“Oh yes,” says Grandma, “and these are the ones I want you to have.”

Mummy spends a lovely evening looking through her old birthday cards and laughing at the handwriting of her friends when they were five years old. She reads the lovely messages from so many friends and family, and thinks what a lucky little girl she was to have so many people send her cards. And how lovely of Grandma to keep all these things for Mummy to look back on… I must do the same for The Baby, thinks Mummy.

Suddenly Mummy comes across something else tucked inside her birthday cards that survived the cull… a relic from 1983 that Grandma saw fit to keep and pass on to Mummy at this time:

Hmph. Mummy is not impressed. She spends a good while looking at her waistline in the mirror and reading the guidance in the pamphlet Grandma has so kindly provided… then thinks better of it, chucks it in the recycling and opens a packet of Galaxy Minstrels. Some things aren’t worth keeping, thinks Mummy.

Feeding frenzy

Mummy has had a very difficult mealtime. She cannot for the life of her understand why The Baby seems calm and hungry, then loses the plot every time the spoon is raised to her lips, squealing and flapping and flinging food all over herself. Each time, Mummy waits patiently for The Baby to settle down and the Baby leans forward, mouth open, appearing completely normal and mentally stable. Yet as soon as Mummy proffers a mouthful of delicious dinner, it is like an electric shock has passed through RB, rendering her first rigid and paralytic, then frantic and frenzied with squeals only a dog could hear.

Time and time again this happens whilst Mummy battles on. After each episode, she is immediately hungry and resumes normal behaviour, but it is impossible to get any food into her. By the time the pot has been emptied, there is food all over the floor, food all over the walls and food all over The Baby. RB is grinning at Mummy, delighted with the scene she has created. Mummy feels like she has weathered a storm without getting a morsel of dinner into the little one, and turns wearily to the sink to begin the clean-up operation. It is then that Mummy spies Daddy through the kitchen window… it is Daddy upon whom RB’s manic grin is firmly fixed. The sod has been playing peek-a-boo from the garden from underneath the window. Daddy will be cleaning the kitchen this evening…

Daddy – 1: Mummy – 0

Garbage disposal

Hating mess as she does, it is a Big Thing for Mummy to embrace letting the little one start to feed herself. When you have a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, the idea of puréed beetroot being flung over your clean washing up and Jenga-like spice rack is stomach-churning.

Rebel Baby however is delighted to finally be in charge of the spoon, having lusted after it for weeks. So excited is she that not a single morsel makes it from bowl to mouth without assistance, the majority being sloshed enthusiastically down her front en route to the spoon, accompanied by ecstatic squeals and frenzied arm-waving.

Never one to waste food, she then spends half an hour slurping the cold, congealing mix of assorted debris out of her bib gutter, emerging every now and then to catch her breath and grin manically, before plunging back in.

Mummy has left her to it and is frantically Googling “Finishing Schools,” hoping they still exist.

Baby prison

Today, Mummy invited some friends round to play with The Baby, because that is the sort of thing that proper Mummies do. This will be lovely for The Baby, thought Mummy, as she pictured the four of them playing happily together on the mat and sharing their toys. “Oh yes that will be lovely,” did say Mummy’s friends as they merrily headed over to Mummy’s house with their unsuspecting little ones.

Mummy had neglected to mention Rebel Baby’s new-found love of grabbing faces. She just loves faces so very much and it fascinates her how you can push and pull the skin like playdough, or pummel the eyes to make a face screw up into funny shapes. Especially fun are mouths, which stretch in all directions and feel warm and gooey.

And it is not just that faces feel fun to play with – they taste interesting too. All the smooth bits and lumpy bits and hairy bits and moving parts… Rebel Baby loves to lick faces. Maybe even chew on a nose, if the opportunity presents itself. There are very few members of her close family who haven’t gone in for a cuddle and retracted with her latched on to a cheek or earlobe. It is just her way of showing love, Mummy tells people.

Mummy’s friends arrive with their little ones to play with The Baby. How lovely, thinks Mummy, won’t we have a lovely time! But it takes less than five minutes for RB to have reduced at least two visitors to tears. Rather than showing remorse, she is confused as to why they did not understand and appreciate her advances. RB has a lot to learn about making friends.

It soon becomes clear that she intends to persist in her face-grabbing venture, so Mummy is forced to send RB to Baby Prison for the remainder of her playdate – a laundry basket which Mummy has cunningly filled with plastic balls so as not to appear abusive.

“Ha ha, yes it’s a fun new toy! She loves it, honest!” lies Mummy to her friends, forcing  The Baby into the plastic bucket. In this way, RB is kept a safe distance from the general public lest she should cause actual bodily harm or be the first person in the world to obtain an ASBO before her first birthday. She seems to like it well enough… which is not the idea. On the other hand, perhaps she will get early parole for good behaviour. Or perhaps not.

“What did I do?”

 

Narcissistic Baby

Soon, Mummy may have to shut down RB’s blog as it seems the fame is going to her head. Today, she shunned all offers of toys and games, preferring instead to admire herself in the mirror Mummy gave her for hours on end.  All day she spent, stroking her reflection and gawping at its beauty. Mummy is concerned such levels of self-obsession are not healthy in one so young.

There could, however, be a simple explanation. Until now she had only a ‘baby safe’ mirror which is soft and bendy, but distorted her reflection so tragically that The Baby’s self-image must have been one of disturbing and alarming disfigurement. Perhaps today’s narcissism was no more than relief at the revelation that she does not, in fact, resemble a squashed Quasimodo after all. That’s got to be a good feeling.

“It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” Mummy would tell her.

 

For the love of trash

This morning, Mummy is changing the bed and sorting the laundry, such is the excitement that is Mummy’s life. Usually this job takes about ten minutes while The Baby plays happily in her cot in the next room, but today The Baby does not want to play in her cot, she wants to be with Mummy all the time. Naturally, Mummy takes this as a compliment and is only too happy for the little one to witness the housework. It’s never too young to start helping, thinks Mummy.

Being a thoughtful parent and expert multitasker, Mummy pops The Baby on a cosy blanket in the corner of the bedroom with some of her very favourite toys, and sets about her chores. Rebel Baby, however, has her sights set most clearly on an object in the far distance she very much desires: the wastepaper basket full of snotty tissues and used breast pads. Her mission: to upturn it and revel in its contents.

Despite having to cross the entire room and only being able to roll sideways, RB has the prize within her reach in less time than it takes Mummy to change a pillow case. Just in time, Mummy snatches The Baby up and returns her to the safe blanket territory, seconds before she would have showered herself with soggy rubbish. But there are four pillowcases to change and with each run RB gets faster, inching ever closer to the ultimate prize. Mummy accelerates also, smashing records for pillowcase changing and baby retrieval.

Eventually, however, she has to tackle the duvet. This could pose a problem.

Not one to be outsmarted, Mummy cunningly positions herself between The Baby and the sought-after wastepaper basket, blocking her path with piles of king-sized cotton. The Baby is foiled! What a genius Mummy is!

But getting a king-sized duvet into a cover whilst containing a baby in a narrow strip of bedroom is no mean feat and it takes Mummy longer than usual to wrestle it into position. When she eventually emerges, triumphant, Rebel Baby has outsmarted her by going under the bed, expertly bypassing her genius blockade, and has upturned a week’s worth of festering garbage all over the bedroom floor.

Only then does Mummy realise she should have just moved the wastepaper basket. Damn.

The first practice run: caught red-handed… and feigning innocence.

Parenthood surprises

Daddy keeps telling Mummy she has ‘changed’, and it strikes Mummy that parenthood is not at all what she had planned, more’s the pity. Perhaps other people just do it better than Mummy.

Before having a baby: “Why do people leave their babies covered in food and snot? Why don’t they wipe it up?”
After having a baby: “There’s only a tiny bit of poo on the foot, and the sick has nearly dried… should be good for a few more hours.”

Before having a baby: “I can’t stand baby talk, just call a spade a spade. And why do parents talk about themselves in the third person?”
After having a baby: “Mummy’s going to run you a lovely bubbly-wubbly bath and we can have a little splash-a-rooney before beddy-byes, OK poppet?!”

Before having a baby: “I will not be a bottom sniffer. Bottom sniffers are so indiscreet. I will take the baby to the changing room and check its nappy in a prudent and unobtrusive fashion.”
After having a baby: Can bottom-sniff one-handed while drinking a latte, without breaking conversation.

Before having a baby: “Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to let yourself go. I will immediately regain my waistline and be a Yummy Mummy with coordinating baby accessories and a casual yet stylish maternity leave wardrobe.”
After having a baby: “We might have another one someday, why lose weight before then? I’ll just wear Daddy’s sweater for now.”

Before having a baby: “I can’t wait to go shopping for cute little baby clothes!”
After having a baby: “How have you grown out of everything again?! What’s that you say? Second hand baby clothes? Yes please, we’ll take the lot!”

Before having a baby: “Maternity leave will be so much fun! I will push my stylish pram around the park and sip lattes in the sunshine, watching all those other people going to work, and smiling at them smugly.”
After having a baby: Occasionally takes baby to park out of guilt, usually drinks instant coffee at home due to SMP and spends most of life doing laundry.

Before having a baby: “While the baby naps I will rest and read extensively or maybe write a novel like J. K. Rowling did.”
After having a baby: “She’s asleep!!! Shhhhhhhh!!!!” Run around like a (silent, ninja-like) headless chicken trying to get absolutely everything done. Always overestimate length of nap and never quite get enough done.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Trying to please The Baby

Rebel Baby has been in a grumpy mood all day and nothing seems to please her. It is her 6 month birthday so Mummy, Daddy and even Big Bro are bending over backwards to try and muster a smile from the little stroppet.

Mummy has been singing all of her favourite songs, feeding her all of her favourite foods, and has excelled herself with an Olympic-standard peek-a-boo performance. All have been met with derision and disdain.

Big Bro has cycled through every toy in the house, leaving a trail of plastic strewn in his wake, in an attempt to please her. Despite hinting at some initial approval, Rebel Baby quickly reverts to swiping and scowling at every offering and trying to pull his face off with her baby-talons.

Eventually, Daddy suggests an exciting walk round a county park so she can lick some fence posts and shout at leaves – two of her very favourite things to do in the world. RB just about tolerates the outing, but with a face that suggests Daddy had lost the plot thinking this is a suitable way to celebrate her big day.

 

“You thought I’d enjoy this, you fool?”

Eventually, beaten and broken, Mummy and Daddy decide to give in to Big Bro’s begging to go to the park on the way home, and plonk the little one in an inappropriate swing for proper-sized children so they can pretend to admire Big Bro’s efforts on the climbing frame whilst discussing whose turn it is to go to the supermarket for wine this evening.

Rebel Baby, it turns out, is a big fan of the inappropriate swing. She laughs and squeals and wants to go higher, drawing disapproving looks from all of the other Proper Parents in the park whose children are playing safely in a well-supervised fashion on age-appropriate apparatus. By the time Big Bro gets in on the action and starts pushing her dangerously high so that Mummy panics she might actually fly out and break her neck, RB is having the time of her life.

Mummy decides to do the responsible thing and extract The Baby from the dangerous swing before anyone calls social services. In the absence of a bench, Mummy sits on the roundabout with The Baby while the boys go to do manly climbing. But Daddy cannot resist giving Mummy a little spin on his way past and in no time at all, Mummy and The Baby are whizzing round at a hundred miles an hour. Mummy loses all sense of balance and wants to get off.

“Stop!” says Mummy, feeling sick.

“Woooooooooooooh!” screams Rebel Baby, throwing her head back in glee and laughing at Mummy for her weakness.

Happy half-birthday, RB. We love you, you weird little thing.

Why Mummy doesn’t go out

Daddy has gone out for “a few beers” and Mummy is at home with both of the children.

When Mummy goes out, she has to plan it at least a week in advance. First, she has to check that Daddy is home and is in, and doesn’t have man flu or too much work to do that night. Then she has to find some friends to go out with. This is difficult because all of Mummy’s friends now also seem to have babies or small children, and therefore have to check that their Daddies are at home and in and don’t have too much work or man flu. Given that the combined probability of these factors working in Mummy’s favour is less than 1%, it rarely progresses further than this.

However, on the rare occasions that the stars align and Mummy plus at least one other person can synchronise an evening of availability, Mummy then has to send Daddy an email and a calendar invite and preferably text reminders on at least three different messaging apps with regular alerts than increase in frequency as the event approaches. Daddy cannot possibly be expected to remember anything Mummy tells him and will only respond to a computer. This takes nearly as long as the evening out, which Mummy suspects is supposed to be a deterrent…. but she is not deterred.

Once Mummy has completed the necessary Dadmin to allow the event to take place, Mummy has to calculate how long she will be out for and exactly how many millilitres of milk The Baby will need to consume in this time. She will then need to plan backwards to express enough milk to last the duration of her absence, but building up the stock at a gradual enough rate so as not to reintroduce her over-supply issues. For a typical evening out, Mummy will need to start expressing 3-4 days in advance and freezing the milk, in very clearly labelled bags so Daddy does not accidentally defrost and feed the baby cheese sauce.

When the day finally arrives, Mummy needs to plan The Baby’s naps in a timely fashion so as to get her into bed before Mummy needs to leave. This means forcing a nice long morning nap and possibly cutting short an early afternoon nap, and then praying to the God of Sleep that bedtime will go smoothly and Mummy can sneak out once the little one is happily snoozing in her crib. When it does not go according to plan, this results in Daddy phoning Mummy just as her food is served at the staff Christmas dinner and shouting down the phone at her over The Baby’s screaming to ask her how to fix it. This does not a relaxing night out make.

Finally, Mummy leaves a detailed list of instructions with labelled everything, changes The Baby and puts her down. If she is feeling especially saintly, she may even have left food for Daddy in the fridge. She doesn’t bother with this too often as Daddy delights in Mummy’s absence as an excuse to order a kebab and play Xbox, but occasionally Mummy is overwhelmed by her all-consuming need to make Daddy eat vegetables and leaves food anyway.

Mummy then goes out and spends the whole evening thinking about The Baby, checking her phone and trying not to leak milk through her too-tight top.

That is what happens when Mummy goes out.

When Daddy goes out, he sends Mummy a text on the way home from work to tell Mummy he is going out. He comes home, has a quick spray of deodorant and maybe changes his t-shirt. Maybe not. Then he goes out and has a lovely time drinking beer.

That is what happens when Daddy goes out.

Tonight Daddy has gone out and Mummy is at home, drinking tea and eating kids’ pasta from the freezer, with both children asleep upstairs. Fun times.

At least she has Grey’s.

Mummy is only slightly bothered that it doesn’t say ‘heroine.’ Because Mummy needs to get out more.